EXPECT things to get better.That was the view from Mr Barnett with regard to prospects for the resource sector in WA, and the South West in particular.Mr Barnett comments were made as he opened the South West Focus 2000 conference.He said that, unlike many others, he was never concerned about the affects of the Asian Crisis on our resource sector because, he said, the crisis was largely financial.“The fundamental of the Asian economies remained strong,” he said.“We can put the Asian problem behind us. I think we will see a resurgence in resource development over the next few years.He said Bunbury’s infra-structure made it feasible for the City to become effectively the second city of this state.“It needs to grow in a style that is sophisticated and enhances the lifestyle of the people living in the area.”He said opportunities were endless in the South West.Mr Barnett said the on-going deregulation of the gas industry could pave the way for a sharp rise in downstream processing activity in the South West.“Potential new industries could include an aluminium smelter. Other large employment-generating industries such as a pulp mill and plants for the production of silicon metal, magnesium metal, titanium sponge could also emerge in an environment of competitive energy prices.Mr Barnett said he was excited by the prospect of the extension of the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline south to Albany and possibly on to Esperance.Epic Energy CEO Jay Holm said his company was interested in the proposal which could take up to six years to complete at cost of $300 million.However, Mr Barnett said the call for expressions of interest was at least twelve months away.
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